Friends and regular readers know what an amazing attitude and spirit Ken had–always–and it continued after his cancer diagnoses. In fact, it got even stronger. In addition, he always possessed what he and I termed “a need to create”…crafts, cards, artwork.
On Monday I received a intimate reminder of his creativity–as well as a beautiful symbol that his talent seems to be part of a family legacy.
(Ken’s sense of humor shone through beautifully in his T-shirts. After his hemipelvectomy, he only had one leg which was a particular target for his disarming humor.)
The summer after his surgery and first round of chemotherapy treatment Ken wanted to make T-shirts with positive, fun and very him-like phrases on them to wear to doctors appointments and anywhere, really. I can’t honestly remember if this idea was after he’d already been re-diagnosed or not–which is sort of frustrating and had me feeling a like a shitty husband. I can’t help but consider were the situation reversed, Ken would have known when I wanted to create these amazing, monikered T-shirts.
Anyway, after Ken died Mama Jo (what I call his mom) took shirts back to California with her to create “a project.” She referenced the project occasionally during our phone calls. I’m sure there were times when it was difficult to work on. And others when I hope it was incredibly cathartic. When I called her soon after opening the box that contained it to thank her, she said she was as happy to have it finally finished as she was sad. I think know what she means.
I had an idea it was coming and on the way home from work when I remembered to swing by the UPS store to pick it up, I felt a pinch of emotion. I’m used to that by now. But when I got home and settled in to open it, I felt only curiosity. Then after opening it, wide-eyed wonderment. It felt so good to see those T-shirts again. They were a hallmark for Ken and that time of our lives. And for so long I folded them and put them in the top two drawers of his dresser. And for a shorter time after that, I’ll never forget asking and sometimes helping him decide which one he’d like to wear that day.
Unfurling the quilt was like welcoming home an old friend. It’s not a just a quilt though (probably a wall hanging), it’s a piece of artwork. It’s Ken’s voice, framed in Mama Jo’s love. Such a beautiful metaphor. And only one of the many reasons I love it so much.